The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

Spring Cleaning your Log Cabin Home

Posted on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 @ 08:44 AM

custom log home

Although spring came a bit late this year (and in some parts of the country - they're still waiting for it) NOW is the time to start planning the spring cleaning projects on your log cabin home.

If you plan on rinsing off your log home, there are some great cleaning products that are "green" and easy to use. Most of these products use an oxygenated bleach (no chlorine) which removes not only mold/mildew but also pollen, pollution, dust, dirt, etc from the surface of the wood. These products do not require pressure washing so most any homeowner can wash down the exterior of their beautiful log home with just a water hose.

Should your plans include applying another coat of an exterior finish, now would be the time to consider some great additives to help repel carpenter bees and/or additives to help eliminate the growth of mold/mildew. These additives are easily mixed in the exterior finish and will help reduce the amount of future maintenance.

Another sign of spring is the buzzing of bees. Carpenter bees make their appearance in early spring and start their annual short lived but sometimes damaging effects on your log cabin home. There are some wonderful products that will help control or eliminate these pests, and come in kits to either spray or hang on around the home. Although the bee traps look kind of silly - from personal experience - they REALLY work!

Don't forget to check your downspouts and gutters to make sure they are draining properly and that the water is draining away from your foundation. Remove all the fall and winter debris from the valleys in your roof so water properly drains from these areas into the gutter system. Trim back any landscaping that may be too close to your log wall to allow air to flow around plants and the wall to inhibit the growth of mold/mildew. A good overall visual check of the exterior of your home is a good idea at least once a year and spring is as good a time as any to get this done.

If you are looking for some helpful products to use during your log home spring cleaning be sure to visit the Maintenance Products section of our web store. We offer many quality products and can get them shipped to you quickly!

For more information or insight on maintenance for your log cabin home be sure to contact your local Log Home Sales Consultant - most of them live in log homes and are happy to share their experiences and suggestions to keep your home happy, healthy and looking GREAT!

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Tags: log home, log cabin home, log cabin homes, custom log home, log home sales consultants

How to Properly Compare Log Home Packages.

Posted on Fri, Apr 5, 2013 @ 09:48 AM

log homeIf you’ve done any research at all comparing log home companies one of the first things you realized is that they all offer different types of packages or materials. When trying to compare “apples to apples” you soon learn that it is a virtually impossible task since the material packages are different as well as the quality and type of materials.

Some examples:

  • Log wall material is pre-cut or linear foot?
  • Roof system - 2x convention frame, pre-manufactured truss or heavy timber?
  • Thickness of log, nominal or actual?
  • 2nd floor system - 2x, conventional frame, pre-manufactures truss or heavy timber.
  • Quality of windows/doors – wood, vinyl or clad?
  • Quality of sealants/fasteners?
  • Written warranty against wood digesting insects and decay?
  • Engineered for settling?

Assuming that each manufacturer offers the same products is incorrect. It is not uncommon to discover that you have requested pricing from a producer that supplies only log and beam materials that are supplied to you in random length and pricing from another that includes materials that are extensively pre-cut and ready to assemble and supply materials to complete a dried-in structural shell. With the pricing between the two log home producers being several thousands of dollars apart, we often find that folks think the lower priced estimate is better – until they discover the difference. Sometime folks don’t “discover” the difference until it is too late!  It's best to remember to compare MATERIAL LISTS before you compare pricing.

When asking log home producers to provide an estimate for a certain floor plan it will be in your best interest to also provide the list of materials you would like included as well as the type and quality of materials you are expecting. This will get you as close as possible to that “apples to apples” comparison you are looking for.

To help you along, here is our Request for Estimate Checklist. In addition our Packages and Pricing flyer is linked so you may see both the material list and pricing for our pre-cut and random-length materials. For more detailed information please call on your local Independent Log Home Sales Consultant. They are a GREAT resource for you to use throughout your log home building project.

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Tags: log home, log home building consultant, log home packages, log home building materials

Protecting Your Log Home from Forest Fires!

Posted on Thu, Mar 28, 2013 @ 12:20 PM

log cabin home

Dad was a forester, earning his degree from WVU (West Virginia University) and working in the woods or around timber for most all of his life.  Spending a season or two in fire towers he passed along his respect for the proper care and treatment of forests to his kids and immediate family – especially his respect and concerns for fires.  When building my log home in 1992, he knew that we were located on 11 acres of totally wooded land and it was surrounded by forests beyond.  We spoke about and designed the building site so a fire break was included around the house in case one of a forest fire.

Recently I ran across an article* in a building magazine mentioning most of the ideas my father had about protecting my dream log home against these fires and though I would share them with you too.  Whether you are just now starting to build a log cabin home (or any home for that matter) or still planning your dream log home here is some good food for thought.

“Forest fires are more than just fire.  They can become a “firestorm” – a deadly mix of unending fuel supply and thermally-induced high winds that roll into a blast furnace, and approach, uninvited, with the speed and power of a locomotive.  Seemingly non-combustible materials burn or disintegrate.  Sheer winds uproot trees, fences and roofs with unnatural ease.  Superheated embers fly, bounce and crawl into fresh territories to advance the wall of flames ever faster.  To understand this power, picture a 3,000 square foot house burned to its foundation in less than eight minutes.  It has been described by its victims as a “fire-tornado”.  Often, fire breaks are the only answer, starving the flames of combustibles that fuel its insatiable appetite.” 

“What can be done to brace against such disasters?  As witnessed in recent events such as the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado, quite possibly nothing, short of a fire break.  Still, there are many efforts that you can make in your building and landscape design to ensure the property is more fire-resistant, and may stave off more serious destruction.”

Walk the property, and look up.  Encroaching trees with overlapping crowns, proximity to other buildings and prevailing winds can make the property an easy reach for forest fires.  Create a “green belt” around the structure – usually referred to a Zone 1.  This is a 30 feet clearance on all sides of the structure, free of combustibles including dead brush, firewood, propane tanks or debris.  Trees near a house may look cozy, but to be safe, clear out all trees from Zone 1 of the property.  If that is not possible, trim overhanging branches a minimum of 6 feet away from the building.  Keep lawn and foundation landscaping in the green belt low and well-watered.

Create a “fuel-free” zone around the buildings. Keep gutters and downspouts clear of debris, and consider specifying decorative stone, rather that mulch near the building.  Consider your landscape design for fire safety; keep portable or permanently installed gas grills away from the house.  Combustible outbuildings and garden structures like gazebos, bridges or decorative wells can invite fire closer to the building; make sure these structures are a good distance away from the primary structure.  If you have wood fencing attached to the building, this can lead fire straight to your structure like a wick.  Create a barrier of non-flammable fencing a minimum of 6 to 10 feet from the property walls.

If a building is in a high fire danger area, it is mandatory that your use fire-rated materials on your construction.  For roofing, metal, slate, tile and some fire-rated fiberglass or polymer tiles may do the job.  A metal roof with a Class A rating is an excellent deterrent against fire.  

If your roof has skylights, use tempered glass skylights, rather than plastic ones.  Double paned or tempered glass windows offer extra protection that can help keep a fire from entering the interior of your structure.  The temperature differential between the hot forest- fire air outside and cooler attic air can cause a strong vacuum effect, pulling fire in to the structure.

Use a finer 1/8th-inch opening steel screen on your eaves vents; while coarse screening may keep out the birds, you will need something smaller to keep airborne embers for being pulled in to attic spaces.

Create fire breaks in your landscape design.  Use driveways, walkways, and water features to create vegetation barriers.  Even low stone or cinder block walls along the property line can serve as an effective fire break.  Prune trees so that trunks are clear of branches and undergrowth 6 to 10 feet from the ground.

When building your log home in the forest, keep these ideas in mind so your investment is properly protected from forest fires.

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*Part of the blog is from March 2013 Metal Builder Magazine and an article written by Doug Myer, Metal Panels, Inc.

Tags: log home, log cabin home, dream log home

Not All Log Home Logs Are Created Equal!

Posted on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 @ 08:08 AM

Dovetail LogD-log

 

There are some that think the logs used in log homes are created equal. That's why many potential consumers think all logs should all be priced the same. As with any product, there are differences in quality, thus differences in price. Let's take a look at a few of these differences.

 THICKNESS - Most log home companies will advertise 6", 8" or 10" thick logs. When you go and actually MEASURE these logs you'll find they are 5.5", 7.5" or 9.5" thick. Appalachian produces FULL THICKNESS logs for our log cabin homes, thus more wood AND more insulation.  Using full thickness logs will typically add between 15% and 20% more wood product to your home - stronger, safer, added insulation - a lot more benefits for the same price!

GRADE STAMPED - Know the difference between a graded log and a grade stamped log? A grade stamped log guarantees that your log home building materials are structurally sound and approved to meet building codes. Building inspectors will be looking for this stamp on each of your logs to verify that they meet the ASTM specifications. Many log home companies talk about "graded logs" - BEWARE - these are NOT GRADE STAMPED logs. Graded could mean a visual grade (not structural) or just that the guy running the mill thinks it looks good so he gave it a good grade. Quality is the difference - you'll pay less (and get less) with a non-grade stamped log.  We've heard from folks who purchased from other log home companies who did not grade stamp their logs and were surprised when the local building inspectors arrived at the job site and stopped their project.  They had to hire a specialist to come and grade stamp their logs before they could continue.  This not only added more time to the project but also more money!

SPECIES - Still believe there is one wood species better than the rest? Do some research and you'll find that besides some color and grain difference they are all about the same. Think cedar or cypress is impervious to rot/decay or wood digesting insects? Think again and start doing some research for yourself. You'll soon discover that these species, just like all the rest of the wood species, need to be protected with preservatives for great looks and longevity.  Remember - if there were a perfect wood species to build log homes with - ALL of the log home industry would be using it.  We use White Pine because it is a wood species that is abundent in our area, easy to work with and takes our borate pressure treatment easily and completely.  You'll find most manufacturers using a wood species that is close by to their manufacturing facilities.

TREATMENTS - What is the optimum way to protect a log wall? Research pressure treatment and see why it is the only way to go. Research Borates and you'll soon learn why we pressure treat with this organic (non-chemical) product. In the 35+ years we've been providing pressure treated log home building materials, not one of our homeowners have had to replace/repair any of their pressure treated materials we've provided.  Once again, you can save LOTS of time and money by investing in good quality products upfront and not spending LOTS of time/money on maintenance over the years taking care of your log home.

Now that you begin to understand that not all logs are created equal, you'll start to understand some of the differences in QUALITY and pricing. When creating your dream log home think about the type of products you want surrounding you and your loved ones as well as the quality of materials you plan to use in one of the largest investments you'll be making in your lifetime!

Don't forget to contact your local Log Home Building Consultant to discover more about our log home building components and how they can save you time and money not only today, but for the lifetime of your log home.

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Tags: log home, log home building consultant, log home building materials, log home components, log home companies

More than just Log Homes!

Posted on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 @ 01:46 PM

Although we've blogged before that we do more than just log homes, I thought you might like to see and read about some of the projects we've been working on this year that are more than just log homes.

log trail shelterA few years ago our Arkansas Independent Representative, Jerry Allensworth, was approached by the Friends of the Ouachita Trail (FoOT) about some shelters they were looking to construct along the 233 miles of walking trails through Oklahoma and Arkansas.  These 3-sided shelters are open in the front for easy access for hikers and their equipment.  Offering basic shelters to first-come, first-served outdoor enthusiasts these structures offer a place to rest, slog trail shelterleep and cook some food while enjoying a leisurely walk along all or just part of the trail.  Recently through fund raising events and a grant, a total of 12 new shelters will be built along this trail to add to the existing shelters that were previously built. Previous shelters used cedar logs, however with cedar being so expensive these days they looked for a good alternative.  Using Appalachian's Borate pressure treated materials - they found it offered all the benefits of cedar but also offered significant savings on the investment. Working with the US Forestry Service to approve the design and the sites where they will be located, the project finally got off the ground this year.  The first three shelters were delivered a few weeks ago and the first shelter is already built.  Using all volunteer staff to construct these shelters, it's quite a project and one that we are proud and honored to be chosen for.

Log Trail CabinAlso, in the fall of last year we were awarded a contract to construct and deliver 6 of our Trail Cabins for use at a campground in West Virginia.  These log cabins use our 4"x8" logs and are designed to be built on a wooden platform similar to a sub floor so they may be picked and moved.  Designed for campgrounds, back yards, storage building, man-rooms, hobby houses or other small areas that may be remote,sportsman log trail cabin we offer these in both a pre-built ready to ship and use OR un-assembled so you can buillt it yourself.  Like the rest of Appalachian Log Structures materials, the logs are pressure treated with Borates to offer long lasting protection against wood digesting insects and decay.  A definate benefit when clients are looking for long term protection without a lot of maintenance.  These cabins will be ready for rental this summer and I'm sure the family's renting them will appreciate their beauty as well as their uniqueness.

If you have a project that is not necessarily a residential log structure don't forget to think of Appalachian Log Structures when considering who to contact with your ideas.  We've done all types of commercial structures as well as cabins and shelters so keep us in mind for these special projects.  We're ready to hear what you have dreamed up!

For more photos of both the trail shelters and cabins visit our facebook page and view the albums there.  We'll keep them updated as our partners send us their photos.

Tags: log home, log cabin home, log home building materials, log cabin

Carpenter Bees, Log Homes and Other Exterior Wood Structures

Posted on Fri, Mar 8, 2013 @ 01:37 PM

carpenter bee trapWelcome Spring!  With such a light winter in the South this year it seems that the carpenter bees are beginning to hatch a bit earlier than normal.  If you live in a home (log home or otherwise) with wooden structures like porches, decks, fascia trim, etc. now is the time to begin thinking about how to protect these area of your home from this wood destroying insect.

Besides the badminton/tennis racket method which will give you a good workout while swatting at these pests, there are several other products on the market today that will help you reduce and in some cases eliminate the drilling bees.  Keep in mind that since these bees are not ingesting the wood just drilling in to it - topical coats of borates will do little to deter the carpenter bee. 

If you live in a log home or a wood sided home you may want to try a great "green" product called NBS-30.  This liquid additive may be mixed with the finish that you are using on the exterior of your home.  By mixing NBS-30 with a good penetrating product the effects of the additive will last longer as it is not only on the surface of the wood, but penetrates in to the wood as well.  You can use NBS-30 as a topical treatment by mixing it with water - but it works the best with penetrating finishes.  The main ingredient is citronella - the same natural ingredient that is put in candles and burned around outdoor areas where people gather.  Not only does the carpenter bee not like the smell, but spiders, flies, lady bugs and most other insects don't like the smell either.  I've used this product on my dream log home with great success and like the fact that I'm not using a chemical around my house.

If you don't live in a log cabin home but have wooden structures or wooden members on your log home you may want to try one of the traps that are offered.  Most homeowners have seen some of the damage that carpenter bees can do to fascia boards around the perimeter of the roof structure.  A clever individual came up with the idea that by drilling holes the same size as the carpenter bee in a piece of lumber, then making a channel on the back of the wood and placing a glue like substance in these channels - the lazy carpenter bee will enter the pre-drilled hole and get stuck in the glue on the back side.  After initial installation, these traps can be taken down and cleaned and used year after year.  These facia bee chambers are great to use in these areas since the 1" lumber is what the bees like best.

Another trap that I've used for the past two years is pretty ingenious.  Although a very simple design - it works GREAT.  When I first hung the carpenter bee traps at the peak and tips of my log cabin homes gable end I thought I had wasted my time and money.  After less than 4 hours about 1/2 the bottle was FULL of carpenter bees!  I was laughing at how simple a trap it is but what a fantastic job it was doing.  I've almost eliminated the carpenter bees around my house since I've trapped so many over the past two year which means they've not been able to re-produce.

If you have a pretty severe case of carpenter bees (barns, outbuilding, sheds, etc) where you don't do a lot of upkeep or maintenance the carpenter bee kit will be a good solution as well.  Although it does use a chemical dust - it is effective.  You'll need to read the directions and follow them carefully to eliminate the problems but it does work well.

Using a combination of the above products will help eliminate carpenter bees around your home and keep them from coming back.  After all - you spend enough time taking care of your home (both inside and out) so why not spend a little time now so you can save a LOT of time later taking care of those nasty carpenter bees. 

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Tags: log home, log cabin home, dream log home, dream log cabin home

It's Not Easy Being Green - Log Homes & the Environment

Posted on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

green log home For those of us log home enthusiasts who remember Kermit the Frog, we’ll also remember his song “It’s not easy being green”.  Of course back then he was singing about something other than saving the environment.  In today’s world of marketing, the word green has taken on a whole different meaning. Google search “environmentally green” and you get over 41 million hits – everyone from the National Geographic, the EPA and even Wikipedia have pages of information on green.  Seems everyone has their own idea, definition and interpretation of what “green” really is.  We’re marketed on a daily basis about green products from dishwashing liquid to clothing and sometimes it gets to be more of a joke rather than a cause.

It may not be easy being green since it can also be rather expensive.  Take housing for example.  By using a lot of newgen or nextgen products in your home you may wind up investing a lot more in your log home project than expected.  You’ll need to ask yourself a few questions – is this product really green (did it ship from overseas or was it made locally?) and will it really help save the environment (was it made from products that are not green?).

Common sense will come in to play here.  I’ve lived in a log home now for over 18 years, a home that used natures only renewable building resource – wood – as the main structural elements.  The logs were local to my area, were pressure treated with Borates to inhibit decay and attack from wood digesting insects and will help the home be around for generations.  Borate is a natural/organic preservative and insecticide.  How much greener a home can you get?

By having a well and septic system we use and recycle water naturally without chemicals.  We compost some of our food waste, use the recycle bins at our local garbage facility and keep our thermostats at temperatures that ease the use of the heat pumps in summer and winter.  I don’t consider myself an environmentalist.  I just use common sense to make every day decisions about leaving a minimal foot print on this wonderful and beautiful planet we call earth.  So really – it’s not that difficult being green when you live in a log home.

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Tags: log home, log homes, log cabin home, log cabin kits

How to Properly Compare Log Home Packages.

Posted on Fri, Feb 8, 2013 @ 02:22 PM

log homeIf you’ve done any research at all comparing log home companies one of the first things you realized is that they all offer different types of packages. When trying to compare “apples to apples” you soon learn that it is a virtually impossible task since the material packages are different as well as the quality and type of materials.

Some examples:

  • Log wall material is pre-cut or linear foot?
  • Roof system - 2x convention frame, pre-manufactured truss or heavy timber?
  • Thickness of log, nominal or actual?
  • 2nd floor system - 2x, conventional frame, pre-manufactures truss or heavy timber.
  • Quality of windows/doors – wood, vinyl or clad?
  • Quality of sealants/fasteners?
  • Written warranty against wood digesting insects and decay?
  • Engineered for settling?

Assuming that each manufacturer offers the same products is incorrect. It is not uncommon to discover that you have requested pricing from a producer that supplies only log and beam materials that are random length and pricing from another that includes materials that are extensively pre-cut and supply a dried-in structural shell. With the pricing between the two log home producers being several thousands of dollars apart, we often find that folks think the lower priced estimate is better – until they discover the difference. Sometime folks don’t “discover” the difference until it is too late!

When asking log home producers to provide an estimate for a certain floor plan it will be in your best interest to also provide the list of materials you would like included as well as the type and quality of materials you are expecting. This will get you as close as possible to that “apples to apples” comparison you are looking for.

To help you along, here is our Request for Estimate Checklist. In addition our Packages and Pricing flyer is linked so you may see both the material list and pricing for our pre-cut and random-length materials. For more detailed information please call on your local Independent Log Home Sales Consultant. They are a GREAT resource for you to use throughout your log home building project.

Be sure to LIKE and follow us on facebook!

Tags: log home, log cabin homes, log home components, log home sales consultants

Build Your Log Home NOW - and save $$

Posted on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 @ 10:28 AM

log cabin homeYou probably have heard it before from one of our Log Home Building Consultants - "Now is the Time to Buy" or "It won't cost any less than today".  I'm sure there are those of you who thought it a marketing ploy or a way to stir up some business.  There are several of you who listened and have already made the commitment to build your dream log home either last or this year - and you'll be happy you did.

Although the housing industry has been hit hard by the recent downturn in the economy, the past few months have seen a turn towards the positive.  With this up tick in building permits, residential construction loan approvals and other new residential home building activities, the lumber yards and other building supply companies are starting to see shortages in inventory as well as an increase in pricing to replace their inventories.  The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that since October of 2012 the price for framing lumber (per 1000 board feet) has risen from $319 per thousand to over $400 per thousand in January 2013.  In addition the Wood Markets web page (www.woodmarkets.com) also is predicting an increase in lumber prices through 2015 due to several factors including the reduction of available lumber for production and the increase in demand. 

The re-building that is currently taking place in the Northeast due to Hurricane Sandy also places a heavy demand on framing lumber and other building materials that are in short supply making for higher prices.  With some lumber being in short supply already, the immediate need for building supplies to replace or repair damaged homes placed a burden on the supply chain causing some prices to increase already.  Remember Economics 101 - Supply and Demand?

We've also heard from several builders who will insert an "escalation clause" in their building contracts to take in to account the cost of materials from the date their contract is signed to the actual prices for materials on the date they are purchased.  In the past when building supply prices were volatile these escalation clauses were used quite often and in most cases were a permanent part of the contract.  So it should be something you could expect to see in a building contract this year.  Although this is a log cabin home blog for log home buyers, the same increases will be seen in all sectors of residential home construction (frame home, brick homes, modular, panelized, etc.) during 2013 and beyond. 

The purpose of the article is to educate and inform people who are looking to build this year of the possibilities in future pricing so they can plan and budget accordingly.  Better decisions are made with good and timely information.  If you want to do some investigating of your own, make a visit to your local lumber yard and ask what they are seeing as far a lumber prices are concerned and what they expect to happen in 2013.  While you're there also get an idea if other building supplies are expected to do the same (plumbing, electrical, flooring, etc.). 

Take all of this in consideration as you continue to plan and budget for your dream log home.  When you are ready to take the next step - give your Local Log Home Building Consultant a call and we'll be happy to help you get started!

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Tags: log home, log cabin home, log home building consultant

Choosing a General Contractor - Step #8 in Planning for Success

Posted on Thu, Jan 3, 2013 @ 09:07 AM

log home contractor

Unless you are building your dream log cabin yourself, you will be speaking with and interviewing several general contractors or if you plan to act as your own general contractor, numerous sub-contractors. 

In this process not only is it recommended that you ask for references, but also to call and visit those on the reference list from the contractor.  The references should contain both recent projects completed, within the past 12 months, as well as some older references, 2+ years old to see if the service after completion was performed satisfactorily. 

Ask for copies of licenses, certification of insurance and other coverage’s and check with the local building code office or Home Builder Association to get some additional insight of those you are considering.  For vendor references check with the local lumber yard or “big box” store to see if they pays their bills and sub contractors on time.  The folks at these places of business see and hear things that others may not. 

Remember, when choosing a general contractor, you will be working with this person for an average of 6 months +/-.  It is best to make sure that you communicate well, that they understand the scope of your log cabin home project and that all agreements (from BOTH parties) are put in writing so mis-understandings don’t arise.  Don’t be afraid to ask to see a recent or sample contract so that you know what to expect when yours in completed.

Ask questions; take notes on how long it takes to get an answer and just how complete an answer you get.  The more specific your questions and their answers, the better build project it will be.

Next time – Step #9 – Applying for your Construction Loan.

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Tags: log home, log homes, log cabin home, dream log cabin, log home manufacturer, log home design